Shillingford and Gayle put Windies in driver’s seat

Shane Shillingford continued to torment the Zimbabwe batsmen, taking a five-wicket haul for a second consecutive time as West Indies seized control on the opening day of the second Test match on Wednesday.

The tall off-spinner delighted his home fans and family with an impressive bowling performance to end with 5-59 as the visitors were bowled out for 175 at the picturesque Windsor Park. He was well supported by Shannon Gabriel, who got two wickets with the new ball and Marlon Samuels, who picked up three wickets.

Shillingford got turn and bounce and was almost unplayable as he followed up last week’s Man-of-the-Match performance in Barbados of nine wickets, including a career-best 6-49 in the second innings at Kensington Oval. He has now taken 14 wickets in the series.

The West Indies will resume Thursday morning on 114-2 – just 62 runs away from taking first innings lead. Chris Gayle played fluently in the final session to end on 61 not out off 84 balls. The powerful left-hander has so far hit 46 runs in boundaries – 10 fours and a big six. With him is the resurgent Marlon Samuels on 26 not out. They have so far put on 79 runs for the third wicket with little bother.

Earlier in the day Shillingford proved too good for the Zimbabweans. He struck in his first over when he bowled Hamilton Masakadza with a brilliant delivery and ended the innings when he had last man Tendai Chatara trapped in front offering no stroke.

“It was a great day for me. It was wonderful to come out here and get more wickets in front of my home supporters and my family. Last year I got 10 wickets here against Australia, so this year I’m looking to get even more,” said the 30-year-old.

“We believe we can win this match and take the series. As the captain said before a ball was bowled, we are looking to win this match and make it six Test wins in a row.”

Throughout most of their innings the Zimbabwe batsmen tried to sweep Shillingford, a tactic the off-spinner said worked in his favour. Among his five wickets was skipper Brendan Taylor, who was bowled attempting a reverse sweep.

“When I saw them sweeping I was happy. For the right-handers, when they tried to sweep I tried not to bowl too straight but to bowl a little wider of the off-stump. I noticed they then changed their game plan. I felt our change of tactics worked quite well and we held them very tight. They had to look for other ways to score their runs.”

Commenting on the condition of the pitch, Shillingford said: “When I came out at the start of the day and looked at the pitch I knew right there and then it would spin. I saw some patches but it turned out to play really well. It was a bit on the slow side, but the bounce was consistent and I expect it to play well throughout the match,” he added.

Shillingford is also backing Gayle to get a big score in his first Test match at Windsor Park.

“We all know Chris is a man who can change a game at anytime and he is a threat for any opponent. He is a confident player and even when he wasn’t getting the scores he remained confident. It was good to see the way he batted this evening. He started off well with a good half-century and I just hope he can go on to get a big one (century) tomorrow,” Shillingford said.


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